Thursday, 18 November 2010

Book Review - Still Life by A S Byatt

Synopsis - Frederica Potter, 'doomed to be intelligent', plunges into Cambridge University life greedy for knowledge, sex and love.  In Yorkshire her sister Stephanie has abandoned academe for the cosy fristration of the family.  Alexander Wedderburn, now in London, striggles to make a play about Van Gogh, whose art and tragic life give the novel its central leitmotiv.
Review - A well written and rather highbrow book which should appeal to english language/literature students and anyone interested in writing and linguistics.  Unfortunately I didn't find the book to be one of those that you can't put down.  However, I wanted to plough through it and I thought it a good book.  I couldn't quite get the link/connection between the leading characters and Van Gogh, it didn't quite gel.  I found the jumping from character and situation within each chapter a distraction and at one point lost the plot.  I did like the insight to Cambridge life.  I could very well imagine professors and dons to be rather like the Rafael Faber character, self absorbed and quite narrow minded or loyal to their chosen subjects.  I found Daniel and his Mother to be quite selfish and you could get a flavour for inherited traits.  Particularly the uncontrollable temper that young Will seemed to have inherited from his grandfather Bill.  Not a recommendation for my reading group. 3*

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